by Barney Munn
Fire Regulations are in place across the UK to ensure the safety of those staying in holiday accommodation. It’s vital for owners to stay up to date with guidance, ensure their properties are compliant with legal requirements, and guarantee the safety of their guests.
The UK Government has issued new guidance for ‘Small Holiday Lets,’ effective from 1st October 2023. Here’s all you need to know about ensuring your holiday let is fire safe.
Click on the quick links below to learn about a specific topic, or continue reading our full guide to understand what the fire safety regulations mean for you.
We’ve summarised the new fire safety regulations under the bullet points below. Remember, this blog is just a brief overview and is not to solely be depended upon when making your property safe. Please read the full Government guide to ensure your holiday let is safe and compliant.
Owners of small holiday accommodation must carry out and act on a fire risk assessment of their property. This means inspecting your property to identify any fire hazards, ensuring there are measures in place to prevent fires, and putting precautions in place to protect those in your holiday let from a fire. This includes guests, staff and anyone else who may use your property.
Can I do my own fire risk assessment?
The Government guidance suggests that for small accommodations, fire risk assessments ‘can be completed, in most cases, without specialist knowledge’ by referring to the guide. The PDF also contains a helpful risk assessment template. Nonetheless, if you lack confidence in doing it independently, seeking assistance from a specialised fire risk assessor is advisable. The Fire Sector Federation publishes guidance on choosing a competent fire risk assessor.
Ultimately, as the responsible person, you must satisfy yourself that the measures you have put in place are adequate and justifiable. You should therefore ensure that any advice you receive is of sufficient quality.
As part of your risk assessment, you should take note of all the fire hazards within your property and either remove them or take measures to reduce the risk they cause. Here are some examples of hazards set out in the Government guidance:
As electricals are such a common cause of fire, it’s crucial to regularly inspect equipment in line with regulations, like an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). You can find additional information on this in the Government’s Holiday Let Fire Safety guide, or for more specific guidance on electrical safety, visit the Government website.
Smoking is the most common cause of fatalities from domestic fires and is a significant hazard. Although the law doesn’t prohibit guests from smoking in private spaces, the safest bet is not to allow smoking throughout your holiday property. If you’d like to do this, you should display signs to make this clear. At Helpful Holidays, we do not allow guests to smoke in the self-catering properties we let, and all of our listings make this clear.
Although Arson in your holiday cottage is the last thing you’d like to think about, it’s an important hazard to consider. You need to ensure a good level of security to prevent unauthorised access to your accommodation. You should also remove refuse and rubbish bins away from the property, especially windows, to prevent fire spreading from outside.
Heating should have annual maintenance checks carried out by a qualified contractor to ensure it’s safe. You should also avoid using portable heaters if possible, or make sure they’re placed away from combustible materials and fire escape routes. Some dangerous types of heater shouldn’t be used at all – these are described in the Government guidance PDF, along with plenty of considerations for those with log burners.
The guidance document includes measures which can be taken to make ovens and cooking equipment safer. This depends on the type of oven you have, but all types require regular maintenance and cleaning.
As lovely and atmospheric as candles can be for your guests, they pose a significant fire risk. You shouldn’t provide candles for guests, and should suggest that they don’t use candles of their own.
Good housekeeping is an important factor in keeping your accommodation safe. All refuse should be removed regularly, and combustible materials need to be kept away from sources of ignition. Escape routes must be kept clear of rubbish or storage so guests can leave as quickly as possible if there’s a fire.
All furniture and furnishings need to comply with the Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations 1988.
Many fires are caused by the work of contractors. It’s important to make sure all contractors are suitably qualified and competent, and that the correct safety measures are taken when hot work is carried out.
Dangerous Substances should always be stored correctly. Barbeques or fire pits should be a safe distance from the property, and never on balconies, while gas for barbecues should only be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Instructions should be provided for guests.
The law requires you to have escape routes so guests can leave your property as quickly and safely as possible. You should think about the people who will be using your property, such as elderly people, people with disabilities, or children, and ensure the route is suitable for them. Escape routes should also be lined with doors or walls which are fire safe. There’s lots more information about this in the Government guide.
Your holiday accommodation must be well-lit in the event of a fire, allowing for guests to easily escape. It’s necessary to consider lighting in the event that your electrical supply fails. This could be as simple as street lighting outside, or you may need additional lighting which doesn’t rely on the property’s circuitry, such as night lights, easily accessible torches, or specialist emergency lighting.
These are not always essential, for example in small premises where the fire escape routes are clear to anyone using the property. However, in a larger property, you may need signage to show guests where to go in the event of a fire.
Guests shouldn’t be expected to use firefighting equipment, as their greatest priority is escaping the accommodation safely. On the other hand, where staff are in the property, there should be appropriate equipment supplied. It’s also important to keep this maintained and provide instructions for use in line with guidance.
In self-catering accommodation, although guests are not expected to use fire-fighting equipment, you may wish to provide a small multi-purpose fire extinguisher and/or fire blanket in the kitchen area.
You can buy suitable multi-purpose extinguishers, guaranteed for five years, from a range of larger DIY outlets. You should check the gauge regularly to make sure the ‘stored pressure’ has not leaked. Low maintenance 10-year extinguishers are also available. Multi-purpose powder fire extinguishers should not be provided, as they are not suitable for use in enclosed spaces.
Smoke alarms should be fitted in all bedrooms and common areas, while heat alarms are needed in kitchens and other areas where smoke may cause a false alarm. It’s also necessary to have a smoke alarm in your roof space when there are combustible materials in it. Smoke and heat alarms should be interlinked so they all sound when a fire is detected.
A simple escape plan drawing should be supplied for guests, who are unlikely to be familiar with the property.
It’s essential to carry out regular testing and maintenance on your fire safety equipment and procedures. After all, there’s no use in having a fire safety plan if it no longer works in practice. There’s a full list of the tests that should be carried out in the Government guidance document.
Although not mentioned in the Government’s new guidance, carbon monoxide detectors are essential for keeping people safe in your holiday property. It’s a legal requirement that these are present in any room with an appliance that burns solid fuel, like a log burner or open fire. Carbon Monoxide can also be caused by faulty gas appliances, so it’s advisable to have them in any room with a gas burning appliance, such as a gas boiler or oven.
The guidance applies to holiday accommodations that sleep less than 10 people, and have no more than 4 bedrooms on the first floor. This includes all accommodation types, including cottages, chalets, caravans and glamping pods.
It only covers properties on either the ground floor or across the ground and first floor, meaning properties with more than 2 floors aren’t addressed in this guidance. If your holiday let fits into this category, you should adhere to other Government guidance on premises with paying guest sleeping accommodation.
Owners who use Helpful Holidays can rest assured that we’ll provide them with guides to property safety and legal regulations.
Although we can’t advise you on, and aren’t responsible for, fire safety at your property, we hope that by doing these things we’re starting you off on the right foot. You can then read into the matter further and seek your own advice as and when you feel it’s needed.
To learn more about letting your property through Helpful Holidays, call us on 01647 401799, email email@example.com, or visit our website.
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Having lived in the South West my whole life, I love writing about the stunning places and outdoor adventures it has to offer.
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